There are many Americans who don't realise that Jersey is a small island off Britain and France with the same name as one of their states - New Jersey. Indeed we are not the state bordered by New York and Philadelphia but New Jersey did in fact get its name from Jersey in the Channel Islands. In 1663 George Carteret, Jersey's Royalist Governor, was gifted a large tract of land in North America know as New Jersey by King Charles II. During the English Civil War the island of Jersey remained loyal to the English Crown and gave sanctuary to the king.
Towards the end of the 17th century, Jersey strengthened its links with America so much so that many islanders emigrated to New England and North Canada.
But we bet you didn't know that Academy Award winning actress Joan Crawford started out her career under her real name Lucille Le Sueur. It's reported that her father Tommy Le Sueur, left Jersey for Canada and met his wife, Anna Ball-Johnson in the early 1890s.
As a dictator of trends and having such a legacy as a true fashion icon, we celebrate the islands link to this elegant and artistic beauty. With her iconic dark hair and powerful eyes, her signature style will never be forgotten. A lady who knew that accessories were the key to enviable style she was rarely without a wide buckle belt, fur wrap and elbow length gloves. Bravo Joan!
From Hollywood to London, Lillie Langtry was born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton in 1853 in Jersey. Renowned for her beauty, she was dubbed an 'It Girl' of the day and knew the importance of using fashion to enhance her public profile as an actress. Albert Edward, Prince of Wales fell in love with her beauty and her famed intelligence and she became his mistress. From acting she became a star of theatre. This painting was by Sir Edward John Poynter, a leading member of the art establishment. He became president of the Royal Academy later in life and specialised in paintings of classical subjects and indeed as a portrait artist. This artwork was entitled 'A Jersey Lily' and was displayed in the Royal Academy in 1878, the most prestigious venue in 19th century London.
Who knew that Claude Cahun, regarded as one of the most important photographers of the 20th Century, made her home in the island of Jersey in 1937? Not many, but thanks to Jersey Heritage, her incredible photographs taken in Jersey during the Occupation have gone on display in The National Portrait Gallery in London.
Cahun has attracted an almost cult following among art historians and critics working from post-modern, feminist, and queer theoretical perspectives. Claude Cahun was the pseudonym of Lucy Schwob, a French artist and photographer who moved to Jersey in 1937 with her lover and stepsister Suzanne Malherbe.
Claude Cahun works have previously been on loan from Jersey Heritage to exhibitions in New York, Tokyo, Paris, Munich and Sydney, placing Jersey's heritage and culture on the global map. So if there was ever a wonderful cultural reason to visit this place in the British Isles we call home, then why not visit Jersey and discover these and other curated works in the Jersey Museum and Art Gallery.
To many the word 'jersey' is perhaps synonymous to the wonderful fabric that the likes of Coco Chanel introduced to womenswear as part of her movement away from restrictive female fashion around WW1. When Coco opened her first stop in Paris, many of her casual, almost sportswear inspired pieces were made of jersey. Fabric rations were in full swing and the most viable fabric for Coco to use in her collections was indeed - jersey. Previously used primarily for sailors' sweaters and men's underwear, it was at best unelaborate but highly functional and it certainly wasn't the 'de rigour'. However, the innovative eye of Coco Chanel not only appreciated this fabric for it's competitive price but for it's comfortable fit, draping seamlessly on the feminine curves and its practicality. So much so that long after the brand grew, she continued to use this sought after fabric who's origins lie in the British Isles. Indeed the house of Chanel created a fragrance called 'Jersey', named as a reference to Coco Chanel's revolutionary use of the jersey fabric.
It's remarkable to think that the Channel Island of Jersey was earning a reputation for the production and export of high quality knitwear as early as the sixteenth century. Jersey knitted fabric, stockings, waistcoats and pullovers became known all around the world. So much so that the word Jersey came to represent so much more than just the dyed woollen pullovers with naturally water resistant qualities. The island's name entered into common parlance as the generic term for items of clothing of a common class throughout the western world.
Between Jersey Heritage, who promotes the island's rich heritage and cultural environment to Societe-Jersiaise, which was founded in 1873 for the study of archaeology, history, natural history and the ancient language and the conservation of the environment, this small island punches above its weight in curating it's impressive heritage. Within the social images in the photo archives there is a rich and diverse visual history of fashion and clothing in Jersey from the 1840s to the present.